Kirk Bloodsworth is no ordinary man; he is a man of relentless strength, courage and perseverance. He is the first American death row inmate to become exonerated as a result of DNA evidence. He is one out of only 149 inmates who have been exonerated in the U.S. as well as the only exoneree from Maryland.
Welcomed by philosophy professor Dr. Trudy Conway who teaches a class on the death penalty, Bloodsworth came to the Mount on Thursday afternoon, speaking to the Mount community about his exhausting journey, which inspired him to educate the American people on the criminal justice system and the need for reform.
It was a long road to freedom for Bloodsworth was convicted of a crime he had no part in – the brutal rape and murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton. After his conviction in 1985, he spent eight long years in prison and two years on death row.
Bloodsworth went from being a commercial fisherman to having the reputation of a child murderer and rapist.
“This was my life. My life was over,” he said.
When he was educated on the idea of DNA testing for evidence, a practice that was uncommon at the time, he was determined to use this method to seek justice, despite the fact that there was seemingly no hope and no chance at life.
“I would’ve been dead without DNA testing,” he said.
He has exhibited tireless persistence in his pursuit of reforming the criminal justice system, which in turn will contribute to the exoneration of innocent people convicted of crimes they did not commit.
“Stand up – never give up in this world. Stand up for what’s right,”Bloodsworth stated as he offered advice he learned from his mother to the Mount community.
The most rewarding part of his journey is freedom. According to Bloodsworth, your freedom is the only thing you can keep. To him, it was something he had an utmost appreciation for after being released from prison.
His faith kept him in check while in prison, this notion proving to be truly inspiring to the Mount community, which is so deeply faith-based.
Bloodsworth has been a guest speaker at the Mount along with people including Vicki Schieber, a woman who has worked closely with Dr. Conway and an advocate of abolishing the death penalty.
Bloodsworth has come to the Mount to open the eyes of those in the community to preserve justice. This sense of morality is stressed in Dr. Conway’s death penalty class.
This was likely to be Bloodsworth’s last speech at the Mount, according to Dr. Conway.
He will continue to inspire people through his mission to educate the U.S., through the novel, “Bloodsworth: The True Story of One Man’s Triumph over Injustice,” that he helped to write with Tim Junkin and through a documentary that is to be released, titled “Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man.”